Two Bar Two Ranch Co. of Arthur County, Nebraska
2018 Grassland Conservation Award was presented to the Two Bar Two Ranch Co. of Arthur County, Nebraska. The presentation was made at a December 13th award banquet held at the Haythorn Ranch Figure 4 Traditions Event Center. There to receive the award were Mark and Sandi Wilson and their daughters, Sheridan and Audrey. The family members received an award plaque and an outdoor sign which was sponsored by NebraskaLand National Bank of North Platte. Pictured from left, NebraskaLand Bank Vice President Hans Julius; Two Bar Two Ranch Co. representatives Mark, Sandi, Sheridan, and Audrey Wilson; Twin Platte NRD Grasslands Stewardship Coordinator Bill Carhart; and Twin Platte NRD Board Chairman Dennis Schilz (Photo by Jeff Headley).
Two Bar Two Ranch Co. was started by David Wilson in 1908. He moved from Tennessee to what is now Arthur County and homesteaded a section of land under the Kinkaid Act. David Wilson “proved up” and became owner of that land in 1913.
Over the years, the Wilson family has grown and added to the ranch. David’s son, Walter, and his grandson, Doug, put in a pivot and planted irrigated grass in 1979.They were one of the first in the Sandhills to use rotational grazing under a center pivot and found that yearling cattle were the most profitable in this rotation. They continued with various rotational grazing practices over the years.
More recently, the fourth generation on the ranch, Mark Wilson and brother, Michael Wilson, have used more rotational grazing and monitoring practices. With 300 acres of irrigated ground to work with, Mark started using 150 acres planted to rye as part of the grazing rotation. The rye plants provided excellent early-spring grazing while resting other pastures. This has improved the pasture rotation and given increased vigor to summer pastures.
Working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) projects allowed the Two Bar Two Ranch to add wells, pipeline and tanks to pastures with limited water sources. New tank locations helped livestock better utilize available forage and also helped heal high traffic areas in pastures. The newer wells have been placed in corners of pastures and on higher hills, and are solar run. These deep wells are very economical and require very little maintenance.
Mark said, “The NRCS has helped give us the opportunity to be more efficient and productive than we ever thought possible. By increasing water supply and rotating pastures, we have increased grass and cattle production. Looking back, if we would not have been open to changing our practices, we would not have gotten to the point we are now.”
Mark and Sandi Wilson’s daughters, Sheridan and Audrey, have attended the Twin Platte Natural Resources District sponsored Adventure Camp about the Environment, and Youth Range Camp. They have been active in range judging and plant identification in FFA and 4-H. They also help with grassland monitoring at home. Sheridan was the overall Grand Champion at last year’s State Range Judging Contest, which had 536 contestants, as well as at the 5-State Old West Regional Contest. Mark and Sandi have encouraged the next generation to learn about grasslands by serving as 4-H leaders, including a 2018 trip with 4-H students to Washington, D.C. Mark has also served on the Arthur County Board of Commissioners for 18 years.